A residential energy program that supports solar power, energy-saving windows and doors, insulation, heating and cooling, roofing and water conservation will be reinstated in San Francisco. Spring of 2015 is when applications will first be accepted.


The Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) makes these investment opportunities more affordable by financing them through an extra property tax assessment. Payments for these energy-saving or energy-producing options such as solar panels can be made through property taxes for twenty years. Interest on energy renovation upgrades is tax deductible.

The timing of HERO’s reinstatement is helpful because the cost of solar panels has dropped by about 75% in the least several years. In other words, home solar power systems are the most affordable they have ever been. Supporting homeowners in San Francisco with friendlier financing is a good choice, because more of them can make their homes energy efficient.

Over the long term, they may wind up saving money. This is now especially true for solar panel systems. If the average time to pay off a home solar system is about 8 years, for at least 12 years (but more like 32+ years) a homeowner can have free or very low-cost electricity.

“HERO will make it easy and affordable for San Francisco homeowners to reduce carbon pollution and cut energy costs. San Francisco’s inspiring commitment to implementing a PACE program sets a strong example for cities in California and across the country,” explained Blair McNeill, Vice President of Community Development for Renovate America and the HERO Program.

HERO is Property Assessed Clean Energy programs are doing well around the country, including in Southern California, but they were dropped for a number of years due to some objections by federal housing authorities. Outside of the Bay Area, PACE programs were active in 225 California communities.

It will be fascinating to see if San Francisco’s adoption of the HERO program will accelerate residential solar power there. Though the perception of San Francisco may be that it has too much fog to be a good solar city, this perception is not accurate. San Francisco has enough sunlight to be a solar power leader among American cities.

Image: Caroline Culler